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Scout’s Notebook: Staying On Guard; Ravens TE is X-Factor
Not all the offensive line’s problems should be pinned on Mackenzy Bernadeau but all everyone seems to remember is the poor technique in the Tampa game that got Tony Romo hit. Bernadeau hasn’t played great but it looks like if the Cowboys make a switch along the offensive line, it will be at his spot at right guard. Bernadeau and Derrick Dockery have both been working with the first unit this week with Bernadeau taking two reps to Dockery’s one. What does Dockery bring to the lineup? Mainly experience of playing in games like this one. The center and guard play in this game is going to be critical because of the type of players that the Ravens have inside on this front. The Cowboys offensive coaches will not allow Bernadeau to struggle in this game and if he does, look for Dockery to take that spot.
More TE blockers
Look for the Cowboys to use “11” and “12” personnel in the game quite a bit. The Chiefs last week had some nice success with their one back set so I could see the Cowboys trying the same thing. Some of the best runs that Murray had in the Giants game were out of one back sets. Lawrence Vickers hasn’t clicked with Murray like I thought he might so look for Garrett to take Vickers out of the equation, add the extra tight end and trust Murray to use his vision and strength to attempt to get this running game going.
Don’t Forget Pitta
Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is a big time weapon and how Rob Ryan looks to handle him will be interesting. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will line Pitta up all over the formation so Ryan will need to match. Pitta has five inches on both Gerald Sensabaugh and Danny McCray but look for these two safeties to have to find a way to match up with him down the field. Pitta is like a big receiver with the ball in his hands and his ability to cover ground. When he catches the ball in space, he is a load to bring down in the open field. Joe Flacco looks to Pitta as much as he does Ray Rice, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin so how Sensabaugh and McCray play will go a long way to limiting the opportunities this Ravens offense will have.
What a Rush
Against Kansas City, Ravens offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele had their struggles against the outside pass rush of the Chiefs. In his two seasons in Dallas we have seen Rob Ryan get creative with some of his blitz packages. Against the Ravens, we might see Ryan use his personnel in a way of bringing multiple rushers from the same side. If you remember games where Ryan put Ware and Spencer to the same side and brought them off the corner to put pressure on the blocking scheme. Now with Jay Ratliff working inside, guards cannot slide outside to pick up either Ware or Spencer. The Ravens offensive is outstanding in my view but maybe Ryan tries to take advantage of a rookie right tackle in Osemele and give him some looks that he hasn’t seen.
We will not know until we board the charter whether Chris Jones will in fact punt or will the club be forced to sign one of the punters that worked out at Valley Ranch on Friday. My bet is that Jones will be the punter against the Ravens on Sunday and will also be the holder for field goals as well. If Jones is unable to go, Tony Romo will become the holder for Dan Bailey which was a job that he also held last season. If you remember Bailey was perfect on all his attempts that Romo held for so there should be no problems there. On another special teams note, Lance Dunbar did get some reps as the second kickoff return as a deep man but the way that Dunbar will be active this week is that he ran with the first group on the kick off, punt and punt return as well. The Cowboys will dress four running backs most likely going short at wide receiver dressing four.